Tisdale thrilled as players carry out his master plan
AVID watchers of the hit 1980s show The A-Team will remember well the catchphrase often used by Hannibal Smith: "I love it when a plan comes together".
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale must have felt exactly the same following the Grecians' superb 2-1 win at Fleetwood Town last Saturday.
Beset by injuries and up against the big-spenders of League Two, few would have given the Grecians a chance for the long trip north.
But Tisdale devised a cunning plan involving a five-man defence capable of soaking up pressure for an hour, before unleashing his secret weapon and changing formation upon unsuspecting Fleetwood defenders on the hour-mark.
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That man was Scot Bennett, who was switched from his role as a centre-half to centre-forward. And after Matty Blair had given Fleetwood a 71st-minute lead, Bennett struck twice in three devastating minutes to floor Fleetwood and send the Grecians home with maximum points, much to Tisdale's delight.
"It's a fantastic win for us," Tisdale said. "I said last week that the players didn't play to plan, but they played to plan to the nth degree and they got what they deserved. They were impeccable.
"I thought that if we started with that attacking formation and style, we had no back up for it and I didn't think we had the energy to do it for 95 minutes, so we wanted to get to the hour-mark and then go more attacking.
"Even when we went a goal down, I still felt we had something in us. I am very proud of them."
With Sam Parkin and John O'Flynn ruled out of the game through injury, Tisdale handed a first league start of the season to Jamie Reid.
He played a lone role up front with Alan Gow asked to be the link between midfield and attack, while there was also a first start for Tommy Doherty, who partnered Matt Oakley and Liam Sercombe in midfield.
Arron Davies was asked to play at right-back which freed up Pat Baldwin to join Danny Coles and Bennett at the heart of the defence, until Bennett was moved forward after 60 minutes and City switched to a 4-3-3 system.
Fleetwood saw plenty of ball in the first half, but rarely threatened and when they did hit the target, Artur Krysiak was there to repel the danger.
But the Cod Army stepped it up a gear after the break and Blair opened the scoring when he cut back from the by-line and fired a shot across goal and into the far corner with his right foot.
The lead lasted five minutes as Gow slipped a neat pass into the path of Bennett and he fired a superb low shot across goal and into the corner.
Three minutes later, Bennett had his second – and third of the campaign – and again Gow was the creator. The Scot, back to his best form, delivered a fine cross to the back post where the versatile Bennett managed to volley in from close range.
"Scot Bennett is proving to be a very valuable player," Tisdale added. "He has played in three different positions for us this season and to play them like he does is superb."